The development of radioprotective agents has been the subject of intense research, especially in the field of radiotherapy. In this study, we examined the radioprotective activity of the total triterpenes isolated from Ganoderma lucidum (Fr.) P. Karst in mouse splenic lymphocytes in vitro. Using the MTT assay, Ganoderma triterpenes were found to have no effect on cell viability, indicating that they are non-toxic to splenic lymphocytes. The effect of the total triterpenes on DNA damage and apoptosis induced by radiation was analyzed using the comet assay, DNA ladder assay and flow cytometric analysis. Total triterpenes were found to be highly effective in preventing DNA laddering, even at low concentrations (25μg/ml). The comet assay demonstrated that the G. triterpenes effectively prevented DNA damage, and flow cytometry revealed a reduction in apoptotic cells. The effect of the total triterpenes on intracellular reactive oxygen species (ROS) level and endogenous antioxidant enzyme activity in splenic lymphocytes were determined to elucidate possible radioprotective mechanisms. Total triterpenes successfully reduced the formation of intracellular ROS and enhanced endogenous antioxidant enzyme activity in splenic lymphocytes following irradiation. Thus, these findings indicate that the total triterpenes isolated from G. lucidum have a remarkable ability to protect normal cells from radiation-induced damage, which suggests therapeutic potential.
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